F*@k. I hide it with symbols, but you get what I mean. It’s a word. Depending on the context, it can vary from deeply offensive to outrageously funny. Depending on the context. In the last several months alone, public figures, both admired and abhorred (at the same time) have invoked some form of the F bomb. Comedians employ it often, considered nomenclature of the trade. In Beto O’Rourke’s concession speech for the Texas senatorial seat in Congress, he was largely lauded (at least not roundly condemned) for his use of a variant. Others have met severe criticism for their chosen use of the root word.
Most of you are probably unaware, but I dropped the F Bomb at the conclusion of Men’s Event. It was spontaneous. It was meant to be funny. It certainly did not target anyone (even Ohio State fans were not personally offended, I hope). Some found it funny. Many were neutral. While few of the over 500 attendees expressed anger at my choice of words, I am sure some sit in silent disapproval.
My initial stance to potential detractors was of defiance. “It is only a word,” I said. “It is the Men’s Event,” I proclaimed. “Have a sense of humor,” I retorted. In the intervening six weeks since the event, I have spent a significant amount of mental energy reflecting on my concluding statement. This column is my contrition, not because I find the word so offensive nor because of any onslaught of criticism. In fact, revisiting this matter only publicizes it to a largely unaware audience. Why, then, draw attention to it? Because of context.
The Federation does serious work. The system, with all of its flaws, does more to help Jews in need and ensure our Jewish future than any other in the world. That is serious work. When representing Federation and following an impassioned appeal for Holocaust survivors, the context called for seriousness. My crude comment, while potentially funny in other situations, was not appropriate at that time. And, for that, I apologize to all who support the essential work of Federation, whether you heard me or not. Michael Jeser and I had just introduced our community-wide plan to create a Holocaust Survivor Coalition and had done a good job of doing so. To detract from this important effort was wrong.
I take my role as Federation Board Chair very seriously. I am passionate about what we do and must do for our community. I care deeply about the Holocaust survivor initiative we are pursuing. The impact we, as donors, have on our world is immense. Let us all celebrate and commit to furthering the absolutely critical work we do. It’s serious.